HINDMAN, Ky. — The Knott County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service recently worked with UK student-athletes who conducted the Cats Holiday Toy Drive, giving some Christmas cheer to the area’s children, some of whom lost everything in the devastating historic flooding in July. Hundreds of families got the chance to choose their toys Dec. 13 at the Knott County Sportsplex.
“Children from every community throughout the county got a chance to receive gifts that the people of Kentucky donated through the UK student-athletes and First Wealth. This was a great collaborative program for everyone,” said Dora Webb Centers, Knott County extension agent for 4-H and youth development.”
Football players Quintin Wilson and William Nalty and track and fielder Sydney Steely assisted with the toy drop-off at the extension office Dec. 5.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Wilson, an offensive lineman currently working on obtaining his masters in Sports Leadership. “We didn’t expect it to be as successful as it was. Everyone in our class all wanted to give back to the community in whatever way we could. I think the thing that I’ve learned the most is that people throughout Kentucky are really willing to help and sacrifice and do whatever they can to help others.”
The project was born from the Supervision of Sport and Fitness Personnel class, where undergraduate and graduate students created a community service initiative, including planning, staffing, directing and evaluation. The students put their time and energy toward helping Eastern Kentucky children have a memorable holiday.
“The UK Athletes were amazing young adults to meet,” Webb Centers said. “Their hearts were really in the right place, and this is a fantastic project they put together. The toys provided the opportunity for 360 families of flood survivors to take part in the pick-up from the toy drive. The parents were given certificates to shop and then the toys were wrapped by volunteers. I loved that part. The parents could give their children presents during their own special family gatherings. Volunteers provided a Santa for them to meet along with elves to help them. It was a really good day.”
— Jordan Strickler, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment